By Megan Wrappe

Moms. Sometimes you can’t live with them, and then sometimes (or all the time), you just can’t live without them. The older I get, the more amazing my mom becomes, and I do not say that lightly. That sounds incredibly cheesy, but the woman I am so lucky to call my mom has taught me so much in the past 24 years, and I do not think there is any way I can ever properly thank her.

As an only child, my mom and I have always been incredibly close. Weekends were always reserved for some quality mother-daughter bonding since my dad was more interested in football than shopping or errand running. She was always easy to talk to, and unlike other moms, she did not hold anything back from me. Instead of treating me as a kid when I was one, I was treated like a friend, which meant there were really no boundaries.

This established a unique relationship between the two of us. There was literally no topic that was off limits, which always made for interesting conversations. I could come to her with anything that was going on in my life and we could discuss it openly, not to mention free of judgment. And so unlike other parents, my mom was not afraid to reveal mistakes she had made in her life, which I learned so much from.

I learned not to judge people even when I was the one being judged. When I hit a rough patch of bullying in elementary and middle school and came home crying nearly every day, she taught me to take the higher road by not giving in to the daily taunts. And by not fighting my battles for me, she let me grow my own backbone and realize that I can take care of things on my own.

As women, there seems to be a tendency to rely on men to do things for us from time to time. My mom would do this too, but not very often. As a woman who struck out on her own by moving clear across the country in her twenties, she learned how to do a thing or two by herself. Mowing the lawn? No problem. Home repairs? Done. Car issues? Fixed, at least most of the time.

And the funny thing for me was always that she never even asked my dad to help her, she just did it herself. By seeing her do this, I took a page out of her book and have learned to not wait for anyone else to do things for me. If I want to get something done, I teach myself how to do it, and am usually not satisfied until it’s done well.

Another thing about my mom is she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She was far from those moms who couldn’t bear to have dirt on her floor or panicked when clothes got stained. Instead, she was the mom who was out in the backyard with me showing me how to throw and catch a ball, made chalk roads on our driveway so I could ride my bike down them, or threw a parade around the house just because we could. Our house was one of the designated gathering spots for my neighborhood friends growing up and that was not only because my mom has always loved kids, it was because she was one of the fun moms. And even at 24, I am still told by all my friends how much they love my mom and I would have to agree with them, but I may be a bit biased.

The thing I most admire in my mom though is her strength. She has had to deal with more in life than anyone should and she did it all with a smile on her face most of the time. Life came barreling down on our family’s head two and a half years ago when my dad was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. My mom had lost her job as an X-ray tech six months before, which at the time, was devastating news to us. But with the diagnosis, she decided to be my dad’s nurse without hesitation. I was a senior in college at the time and was forced to make the hard decision to finish school while my Mom dutifully drove my dad to his chemo and radiation treatments and took tender loving care of him at home when he was dealing with the aftermath of his medications.

Over the next two years, I never heard her complain about anything she did for my dad. It was like this was the mission she had been preparing for all her life. I came home on breaks and was always amazed at how she did not panic when my dad was so incredibly sick. Others would have cracked under that amount of pressure, but my mom took my dad’s care head-on, and no one could have done it better.

I may be a young adult now, but there are times that you still need your mom. When I have a cooking question, my mom is always the first one I call or text. Or if I need someone to talk to, it’s mom to the rescue. Because of this and so much more, she is probably one of my best friends.

Are we always the perfect mother-daughter duo who never scream at each other or fight? Far from it. My mom and I are famous for our screaming matches, which has always annoyed my dad to no end. But, we usually can’t go very long without talking to each other, so they blow over quickly. We also differ on our opinions, but we find ways to work it out.

In my entire life, there will never be anyone else who knows me like my mom. We may fight and bicker from time to time, but she will always be one of my biggest cheerleaders. She was the one who told me to fight for my dreams so without her, there is no way I would have had the courage to pick up and move so far away from home. And since I am not at home now, I realize now more than ever just how much she has taught me.

Her love and support allowed me to pursue my own dreams and know that she would always be there. She taught me to never be afraid to be myself, which I have circled back so many times in my life. But the biggest thing though is she taught me how to love, and love unconditionally.

Through all the mistakes I have made in my life, my mom is one of those people who has seen me through it all. She is my rock who I fall back on in hard times and has never steered me wrong. She made me the self-sufficient woman I am now, and it is because of her that I know I can do anything.

So, Mom, I know I do not say this all the time, but thank you for all you have done. There is no one else I would rather call my mom. Someday, I hope I can be half the woman you are. I am so incredibly proud to be your daughter!